Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Student finds purpose in advocating for diversity and inclusion

Ellis Hodo ’21 recently joined the U of R’s Campus Climate Survey committee. The group is seeking input from all students, faculty, staff, and administrators about their experiences and opinions regarding the campus climate for diversity and inclusion. The committee includes more than a dozen representatives from across the University, but Hodo wanted to ensure that student input and strategies were being heard.

Hodo is now encouraging fellow students and other members of the U of R community to participate in the survey: “The responses are not going to impact just the next cycle of students. What people say now is going to be a vehicle for change at the University for generations. This survey is not just for us, but for the students, faculty, staff, and administrators who come after us.”

A college home

When Hodo began searching for a college home, the University of Redlands just made sense. The U of R’s generous financial support meant less strain than a state school, and the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies offered an opportunity to form a unique academic identity. Most importantly, Hodo could work directly with senior administrators rather than having to try to navigate the bureaucracy of a larger school. As an engaged student activist, Hodo also began serving on committees acknowledging LGBTQ+ work and planning events to celebrate students’ lives.

“I feel like it’s easier for me to make an impact here,” says Hodo. “I think my voice has been listened to more than it could be at other institutions.”

Hodo, who uses they/them pronouns, found an unexpected level of support and mentorship residing in the Johnston community on the main Redlands campus during their freshman and sophomore years. Hodo credits staff and administrators at the U of R for having a profound impact on student lives.

Meaningful mentors

Maggie Ruopp, resident director and admissions and alumni coordinator for Johnston, is supportive no matter what—whether it’s excitement about a grade or a worry at 3 a.m.—Hodo says.

In Campus Diversity and Inclusion, administrative leaders Monique Stennis and Peter Tupou ensure students have the spaces to hear each others’ stories and participate in student-driven programming.

Alesha Knox, assistant director for campus visit experience and events, helped Hodo gain far more than professional skills during a work-study experience. “[Alesha] has been the most impactful person in my life,” Hodo says. “She has taught me life skills and how to navigate the world as a marginalized person—how to be myself in a way that I feel proud of.”

In response to such experiences at the University, Hodo changed their Johnston emphasis to Politics and Community Engagement, with plans to address LGBTQ+ access to health care, housing, and other critical services through public policy after graduation.

Learn more about the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies and U of R’s Campus Diversity and Inclusion programs.

U of R students and staff/administrators can find an invitation to take the Campus Climate Survey in their redlands.edu email inboxes; the faculty portion of this year’s survey is now closed. For more information about the survey, survey methodology, and general information, as well as a listing of members of the Climate and Culture Advisory Council, please visit the climate survey web pages.